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Blurring Lines Between Work And Life – Is This The New Normal?
Between disrupted routines, employees find themselves struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance in their WFH routine. As remote work is the reality that we need to accept; we must look for positives in it.
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Never before have companies across industries been forced to change so radically and drastically than in the recent few months. Rather than a flexible option; remote working became a compulsion for everyone across the globe. Balancing Work and life have always been challenging but balancing it with remote working is a next-level challenge.
According to separate surveys by Oracle and Microsoft reveals that employees in India are overly stressed, anxious, and are on the verge of burnout. At least 41 per cent of respondents cite a lack of separation between work and life which contributes to work stress. The Covid-19 pandemic has created the most stressful year in history and adversely affected the Indian workforce. BW Businessworld dug into the issue and tried to figure out the reasons.
Giants like Microsoft, TCS, Infosys, IBM, and many other companies have announced permanent work from home for their employees. Despite many drawbacks; remote working will still be a major part of our work life in the new normal. Experts assert that we are on the way to step in the “Hybrid or Flexi work model.” While discussing the new definitions of the future of work; Subir Verma, Head- HR & IR, Tata Power, presented his valuable insights and said, “Virtual and remote working is here to stay, but it may not replace work from office completely. A “Hybrid Model” (remote working & working from the office) is definitely the future”
“Businesses are now focussing on digital transformation, workforce redesign, and remote management and flexibility in order to stay relevant in the current times. These factors will help organisations in redefining the workforce of the future which is agile, dispersed and contactless,” says Rachna Mukherjee, CHRO, Schneider Electric at India and South Asia. Working remotely has impacted the lives of employees severely. A study unveils that Job cuts have led to an increase in work pressure thus impacting the work-life balance. Nearly 87 percent of the respondents felt that companies must evolve clear work-from-home policies focused on well-being. Extended working hours is a major grievance, with 55.2 percent claiming to have worked for more than their usual office hours and about 59 percent complained of increased workload.
Lesser-Known Perks of Work Form Home
On the contrary; HR leaders are experiencing and observing numerous positive outcomes of work from home. Subir Verma believes that ‘Remote working and virtual way of life has benefited’ employees, employers, and all stakeholders to pause, think, and balance their work, social, physical, mental, and digital wellness. While discussing the positives of this major disruption; Rachna Mukherjee opens up and mentioned, “During these times there has been a “distinct rise in trust between the managers and their teams” and vice versa- this has led to enhanced collaborative work.”
Moving ahead in these uncertain times; employees would gradually accept the reality of remote working and eventually will appreciate the plenty of lesser-known perks of work from home in the new normal. Despite the uncertainty, work from home necessitated due to the Covid-19 pandemic may have an upside for working professionals as well. WFH (Work From Home) is a new buzzword for all of us and the government has also joined in by introducing ‘Flexi Labour Laws’ which implies that WFH is here to stay for long. Let’s have a look at the positives of the WFH regime;
- As many as 60 percent said they spend more than an hour commuting to and from work which they are saving. This leads to 1.5 hours of saved time per employee which translates into 44 additional working days in a year.
- A survey found that an average working professional is saving Rs 5,000 per month in saved expenses as they are working from home
- Young parents are working remotely and in return, they can give attention and time to their kids. Infants’ mothers are being able to take care of their babies on their own rather than crèches.
- From the hiring perspective; the resource pool will become rich and it is convenient for companies to onboard professionals from any part of the globe given the nature and requirement of the job.
- The new way of work will also see an increase in the numbers of contract-based jobs. As rightly pointed out, Raj Raghavan, Senior VP, and Head HR, IndiGo mentioned, “I feel that young employees will no longer be willing to only invest in any one company/career owing to the uncertainly of various businesses. I do foresee employees to have at least one more ‘revenue generation’ path.”
The Shift in Leaders’ Perspective
The future of work will surely witness the reimagined and redefined practices of balancing work and life. Leaders must be open to empathize and understand the changing needs and demands of employees in these volatile times. There is a pressing need to build a healthy set of ground rules catering to the new needs of the WFH Regime. Companies have initiated practices that involve defined lunch break hours, no meeting days, no work-related meetings, involving family members in various initiatives, keeping the physical and mental wellbeing as a top priority to cater to the new challenges thrown by the WFH style of working. People have always been in the center but this major disruption has reinforced the need to focus on humane values, adding more on the same lines; Raj Raghavan explained and said, “Managing employees in the new normal will require enhanced people management skills. I would foresee words such as “Kindness”, “Compassion” and “Humility” used more and more in the corporate lexicon than ever before. If you were a people manager, I would strongly urge you to not just learn this lexicon but also live them.”
Considering the slight imbalance of work and life; communication and sensitizing about defining the work hours is a must. “Silent hours” with no meetings, no email & meeting during late hours or on off-days has helped so far and will continue to give positive results. The need of the hour is to understand and innovate effective solutions for emerging challenges and needs due to the imbalance of work and life.